The free web is currently broken and needs to restart. There is a discrepancy between the needs of online publishers, advertisers and consumers. If the problem continues, please contact your Internet content providers.
The web is free today because of advertisers. If online publishers didn't have the revenue generated from the sale of advertising, it would be bad for the web.
Advertisers make sites like AOL, Yahoo! and more possible. Producing quality content is an expensive process: it requires writers, photographers, editors, videographers, production assistants, etc. Having a team that size requires significant income. In addition, as a publisher grows to the size of these companies, hosting costs grow to astronomical size. Most companies, at that state, run from their own data centers. Without advertising revenue, these companies would have to start charging for access to their content, turning the web into something resembling a cable subscription.
Not all sites are the size of the big guys. Medium size sites, such as Tom's Guide, Geek News Central, etc. likely do not have the ability to charge for their content. If they did try, they likely would not have enough readers to generate the revenue required to keep their quality as high as it is. The end result would be a major decrease in quality because they would have to hire less expensive employees, frequency because they would have less staff or integrity because they would have to take payment for content. Without these new sources of revenue, the sites would have to shut down entirely.
Small sites would be the hardest hit. Small sites often do not make enough money to pay their bills as it is, and rely on their advertising revenue to help. Small sites, however, are what keep the web going and what eventually become big sites. Without advertising, sites like TechCrunch wouldn't exist today, because they would not have had the opportunity to start initially.
Some sites shirk their responsibilities and take advantage of their users. They use click-bait content to get you to their sites, and then inundate you with advertising. Sites like Answers.com use so much advertising on a single page that most people are unable to view it without enough RAM to run the space shuttle.
Other sites run "advertisements" that lead to scams, malware or phishing sites. They can often harm your computer if you follow those links. Some of these sites do it on purpose, while others do it completely accidentally. Ads start out acceptable but change once a campaign begins. Even worse is when these ads end up being dangerous even without interacting with them. Over the years even big sites like Yahoo! and G4 have been affected, accidentally infecting consumers of their content.
Publishers are responsible for protecting their website visitors from annoying and malicious advertising while providing eyes for the trusted advertisers. This can be done by only trusting reputable advertising services, or sourcing their ads directly from companies they know and trust. Using services that are unknown and promise higher revenue is an immediate sign that there is something wrong.
Advertisers desperately want your attention, but the bad eggs have made it both annoying and dangerous to interact.
The good advertisers recognize that appropriate advertising brings attention to a product or service that is related to the content that is being presented without distracting from the content. Before the breakdown, this agreement worked well for many years. Top sites work with respectable advertisers to generate revenue for the sites and viewers for the advertisers.
Unfortunately, not all advertisers are responsible. Some advertisers provide content that ruins the experience of the website you are visiting. One of the things that drove people away from sites like MySpace was the constant presence of unsolicited noise. Many websites now present unsolicited noise in the form of advertisements. The problem is so prevalent that tools like Silent Site Sound Blocker have been created to make the web easier to tolerate.
In addition to unsolicited noise, some advertisers produce excessively animated advertisements. Minor animations help draw viewer attention to an advertisement. Excessive animation, on the other hand, distracts from the content that the publisher produced.
A drop in total views, due to ad blockers, has created a panic within the advertising industry, resulting in these types of annoying ads. As the total number of people seeing the ads has dropped, the advertisers have resorted to insane tactics. These moves, however, have simply driven up the number of ad blockers, not the quality of eyes viewing the ads.
Some advertisers provide content that is malicious and can ruin your computer. These ads tend to be served through advertising programs, such as Google AdSense, but more frequently from smaller, unknown services. These ads sometimes appear as warnings from Microsoft, some download code onto your computer and others suggest that you have a problem with your computer.
Advertisers are responsible for making ads that consumers want to see and that generate an appropriate revenue for publishers. By producing ads that are annoying or harmful, advertisers harm their brand's image and drive consumers away. Publishers lose revenue while creating a potential risk for their viewers, who are likely to never return after an incident.
In the end, consumers are the ones who are most harmed by the damage being done to the web.
A popular way to try to solve the problem of annoying or malicious advertising online is to use one of many ad blockers. Some browsers, such as Safari for iOS, spent most of their lives preventing ad blockers from running in their environments. Others, such as Opera, have gone to the extreme of including one in the browser's installer. Opera has even considered turning this feature on by default.
Unfortunately, ad blockers do not solve the problem; they actually make it worse. As more ad blockers are used, both advertisers and publishers get nervous and try more annoying and riskier tactics to generate revenue. This makes the web harder and more dangerous to use for those who refuse to use a tool that harms publishers.
Consumers have the same responsibilities on The Free Web that they have in the free market. If a consumer dislikes the policies, products or services of a company, they have a responsibility to not support that company. In the free market, boycotts exist as a way of letting a company know that a group of consumers are unhappy with a particular aspect of a company. If you don't like the way a manufacturer sources its materials, you simply don't purchase their products; you don't steal the product and act like a hero.
On The Free Web, the responsibility is the same. If a publisher is using advertising techniques that you disagree with, you simply don't use their website. For a publisher, the website is their product, and by not visiting the site, the publisher will see the drop in usage and make changes. To ensure a publisher knows why you have stopped frequenting their site, you can email their editor, call their offices or post on their social media accounts.
Just like in the market, though, a responsible consumer does not steal a product because they disagree with part of the company's policies. By consuming the content without running the ads, which generates revenue, a consumer is stealing the content. Everyone online should strive to be a responsible consumer.